The Lost Thorn by Joshua P. Aguayo
Warning: scenes of explicit drug use and violence
The Lost Thorn by Joshua P. Aguayo is a cyberpunk novel with an unstable main character, Samantha Thorn. She’s an intense character. Our first introduction to her is her memory of threatening the girl assigned to monitor her. Sam is a criminal, though in the eyes of ClearSight, she’s only guilty by association… for now. Her father was murdered for being a mage, and Sam’s been dealing with foster families and legal issues ever since. She has two people assigned to watch her at all times, though they’re mostly monitoring her for signs of the arcane, so to cope with the stress, Sam uses Obsidian, an ugly drug that not only gets the user high, they suffer from memory lapses, bleeding, bruising and vomiting. It’s also extremely addictive. Sam struggles with the urge to use throughout the novel and the author nails the addiction aspect both physically and psychologically. She’s not supposed to get high, as her watcher Kiri, loves to remind her. But Kiri is more like a friend by now; she’s been watching Sam for a couple years, and their relationship is complicated. Sam’s whole life is complicated, and the way that the author winds all of her issues together to keep the plot moving is pretty good. There was always something new to discover about Sam and the world she lives in. Another thing I liked about Sam was that she wasn’t a hero. In the fight scenes, she’s scared and trying to do her job while freaking out, which is a refreshing change, but she’s definitely an independent character that doesn’t take crap from anyone.
I wasn’t really a fan of her friend Kiri, but I warmed up to her in the end. The rest of the characters were missing something that made me not connect with them. Perhaps it was just a lack of backstory and relationship with Sam, but none of them stand out in my memory.
There are some issues with this book, the biggest being inconsistent writing. Most of the time, the narrative was odd, as if the author was trying too hard to get Sam’s emotions across and telling us everything with capital letters and multiple exclamation points. The writing was also filled with grammatical errors which really had me struggling to push through and finish the book. But then there were quite a few beautifully written passages that sounded like a completely different person wrote them. I have a theory that this is deliberate, thanks to a plot twist at the end, but it is annoying.
While I enjoyed this take on cyberpunk and all of the gadgetry, there was an element missing to the world building. Until I read some reviews from other readers, I never picked up on the fact that this story is set in Ecuador. I had also hoped for more backstory from Sam about the government, the gangs, and her family. It would have filled in a lot of missing pieces for me. But since this story is told from Samantha’s perspective and she’s scatterbrained at the best of times and high and suffering from memory loss at the worst, I guess these lapses are excusable for an unreliable narrator.
I also thought that the last quarter of the novel was really rushed, and the first quarter was slow, so pacing is a bit of an issue. In this book though, there were a lot of loose ends that were just rushed together when the author could have taken the time to flesh them out a bi tmore.
My Rating: 2.5/5
If you’re interested in this novella, it’s free for Kindle Unlimited users, or only $2.99 on Amazon.
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